NATO mulls giving more fighter jets to Ukraine
NATO is considering supplying Ukraine with more fighter jets on top of the Soviet-designed warplanes already provided by some member states, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has revealed. Kiev has intensified calls on its Western backers in recent months to hand over F-16s and other modern aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force.
Speaking ahead of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, Stoltenberg assured reporters that NATO would stand by Ukraine for the long haul. The official also noted that there is a consensus among member states on Ukraine’s future in the alliance.
According to Stoltenberg, the US-led bloc is seeking to assist Kiev in its transition away from Soviet-era weapons to Western ones, making the Ukrainian military interoperable with NATO countries’ armed forces.
For now, however, the alliance’s focus is on ensuring that “Ukraine prevails” and has the means to repel any future offensive by Russia, NATO’s chief stressed.
When asked about whether the bloc was planning to heed Kiev’s requests for fighter jets, Stoltenberg pointed out that “allies have delivered, Poland, Slovakia has delivered MiG-29s.”
On top of that, “there’s an ongoing discussion about also other types of jets,” the secretary general hinted, stopping short, however, of divulging what models are being considered.
During his surprise visit to Kiev on Thursday, Stoltenberg met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who pressed NATO’s chief over a lack of a clear timeline for Ukraine’s possible accession to the bloc. Zelensky also asked Stoltenberg to help “overcome the reluctance” of some member states when it comes to providing long-range rockets and modern fighter jets to Ukraine.
About a month ago, Slovakia and Poland, both NATO member states, announced the delivery of Soviet-made Mig-29s to Ukraine.
Russia has consistently argued that Western weapons deliveries to Kiev only serve to prolong the bloodshed, and that it is determined to achieve its goals in the neighboring country regardless. The Kremlin has also repeatedly warned NATO that with the delivery of ever more advanced systems to Ukraine, it is getting more and more involved in the conflict, potentially risking a direct confrontation with Russia.